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Curran to Key in question time

From Clare Curran:

I don’t normally send out Hansard. But I think it’s worth you seeing just how difficult it is to get questions answered by the Prime Minister and how he uses personal attacks and slurs to divert attention from a serious issue. For the record, I have am a Labour MP and will remain one, so long as the people of Dunedin South continue to elect me. In 2011 I raised concerns during the debate on the Telco Act amendment Bill about the possibility of the copper price going up due to the provision in the Act for averaging. Key’s comments are completely out fo context. He knows it. The quotes I use from him remain relevant to this debate.

If you are interested enough to go and listen, he is interviewed on TVNZ breakfast on 13 September saying the Commission had not interpreted the law correctly, and that Chorus would go broke is the Commerce Commission ruling stands.


The High Court decision is here:



Turn(s) 6 to 7.1 Wednesday, 9 April 2014 2:25 PM



Prime Minister—Statements

5. CLARE CURRAN (Labour—Dunedin South) to the Prime Minister Does he stand by all his statements?

Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes.

Clare Curran: Given yesterday’s decision by the High Court validating the Commerce Commission’s draft determination on copper prices, does he still stand by his statement that “The Government’s view is that they”—the Commerce Commission—“are interpreting the law incorrectly.”; if so, why?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Yes, at the time I made it, which was in September, which was—

Hon Annette King So what?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY Well, that was because the interim decision was made then, and the Commerce Commission itself said it did not take that into account.

Clare Curran: Does he agree with yesterday’s High Court judgment that “The Commerce Commission did not err in law.” and that “The new statutory regime was always going to drive a pricing sea change.”, and will he rule out legislation overturning the Commerce Commission’s final determination on copper pricing?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I think we have already ruled out legislation, but in terms of the first part, I think the court made it quite clear that it was not a definitive statement in terms of section 18(2A).

Clare Curran: Given the High Court judgment yesterday validating the Commerce Commission’s draft determination on copper pricing, will he and his Ministers now refrain from pressuring the Commerce Commission to make a determination that favours Chorus, and let the independent regulator make its decision free from political pressure?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No one on this side of the House has tried to intimidate or put pressure on the Commerce Commission, any more than that member did when she told David Cunliffe she would go to the Internet Party if he was not nice to her.

Hon David Cunliffe I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! This is a point of order and it will be heard in silence.

Hon David Cunliffe I seek your advice as to whether that reply was out of order either because of irrelevance or because it was factually untruthful.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! It was a reply that in my opinion was not out of order, but it certainly was not helpful to the order of the House. [Interruption] Order! I am on my feet. Does the member have further supplementary questions?

Clare Curran: Maybe he could try a straight answer this time. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I did not hear the interjection, but if the member could assist the order of the House by simply asking her supplementary question, I for one would be very grateful.

Clare Curran: Does he now accept that he, Amy Adams, Steven Joyce, and Chorus were wrong about the copper price determination and that the High Court, the Commerce Commission, and the wider information and communications technology industry got it right; if not, why not?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: This is the person who got it wrong: “the people of New Zealand who are receiving broadband services now will find that”—

Grant RobertsonI raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The member asked the question about the Prime Minister and his Ministers. To begin an answer by saying “This is the person who got it wrong” does not address that question.

Hon Gerry Brownlee In fact, Mr Speaker, the member addressed the question to you and to no one else by starting the question with “Does he”. If we are going to get into the pedantic details of how a question is directed to a Minister, or, in fact—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! This is a point of order.

Hon Gerry Brownlee If that circumstance is answered, then I think we would go back to the question being asked again, but I am sure the same answer would be quite reasonable.

Mr SPEAKER: I do not think there is any need to have the question heard again. I heard the question. The Prime Minister can continue with his answer if he wishes to.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY A person in Parliament in 2011, as a result of the proposed changes made this statement: “the people of New Zealand who are receiving broadband services now will find that their existing copper services go up in price while they are waiting for fibre.” That is up in price, not down in price. Oh, that is right—that person was Clare Curran.

[Continuation line: Grant Robertson: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption] ]

Grant Robertson I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I invite you to tell me how that addressed Clare Curran’s question.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member asked a question. It was certainly a political question. The Prime Minister has answered. If the member wants to elucidate further information, she has the ability to do so through further supplementary questions.

Hon David Parker I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. How can a question that goes to what the Prime Minister and other Ministers said be answered by an answer that does not refer to any of them?

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I do not need assistance from the Prime Minister either. The question went on to say did he now accept that John Key, Amy Adams, etc. were wrong. He said no, and in his mind the person who was wrong was somebody else.

Grant Robertson He didn’t say “no” at all!

Mr SPEAKER: Order! That is my interpretation of the question. [Interruption] Order! My patience is very much waning, and if I have further carry on like this, then a member will likely be leaving this Chamber. If I could finish my explanation without interruption from the front bench of the Labour Party—I considered the question was in order, I considered it to be political, and I consider that it got an answer that addressed the question. I accept that it was not to the satisfaction of members opposite, but it addressed the question.

Grant Robertson I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: Can I just check before I hear this point of order: is it in any way relitigating the decision I have just made? Can I just check—[Interruption] I give the member one more chance. Is he in any way relitigating the decision I have just made? Then I will certainly hear from him.

Grant Robertson I invite you to, after question time, go back and see whether or not the Prime Minister said “no.” You said he—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will immediately resume his seat. That is relitigating the decision I have made, but I will definitely look again at the answer. For the information of the member, I always do. Are there further supplementary questions? [Interruption] Order! The Hon David Parker will stand and withdraw for that remark.

Hon David Parker I withdraw.

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